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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - May 04, 2013

From: Arlington, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Trees
Title: Oak Bark Loss in Arlington, TX
Answered by: Brigid & Larry Larson

QUESTION:

I have multiple oak trees in my yard (in north texas) that have begun to lose their bark in small chunks. I'm in the middle of the city so their are no deer and yes it's been a dry 2 years but this just started in the last few months. It looks like some one shot the entire tree with a shot gun with chunks off everywhere. Are they sick and can do anything about it if so? I do water regularly sprinkler wise and these are huge oaks.

ANSWER:

That’s not a good sign.  I found a good article on this - Read "Loss of tree bark around state might be linked to drought" by Bruce Keitler.  You can also learn more from another Mr Smarty Plants question/answer pair:  How do you stop the bark from peeling off the tree in Amarillo, from this article on ehow, and this document from a neighborhood association in Williamson County on Oak Tree Diseases.

Mr Smarty Plants conclusion from reading this information is simply that there are a number of possible diseases and possible insect invasions that could cause these generic symptoms,  none of them good.  Mr Smarty Plants did do a question on How to treat bark damage on oak tree, which has recommendations quite similar to what Bruce Keitler recommended.  This mostly cleans up the damage and prepares the tree to heal on its own.
  I noticed your comment that you water regularly with sprinklers, thats also not necesarily good.  Remember that trees benefit best from a very deep watering, done at long intervals.  More detail is in this earlier Mr Smarty Plants answer:  "Watering practices for live oaks in drought from New Braunfels TX".
  If the issue with your trees continues to spread you may want to consult the Tarrant County Extension or a Tree Professional.

 

From the Image Gallery


Lacey oak
Quercus laceyi

Escarpment live oak
Quercus fusiformis

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Quercus muehlenbergii

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Quercus stellata

Texas red oak
Quercus buckleyi

Monterrey oak
Quercus polymorpha

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